MEET THE ARTIST BEHIND OUR VOGUING DESIGNS
The artist behind the embroidered design on our "WALK FOR ME" crop and tunic goes by the name 'Flowsofly' on Instagram, a page filled with over a thousand sketches of human subjects, often involving very sensual themes. This collaboration happened across continents, as the artist is located in Austria. MORTALS owner/designer Anji had been wanting to feature voguing dancers on her clothing designs for a long time, since she has a background in dance and has found dance to be such a huge source of inspiration for her work in fashion. Even before her first collection was released in 2016, she had previously reached out to other illustrators to work on this design, but in the end she wasn't happy with the way the drawings turned out. So, that idea was put on hold until recently when she was designing her second collection and happened to come across Flowsofly's work on Instagram.
Anji decided to revisit the idea, since voguing especially fits the brand's gender-fluid vision and mission, with its history back in the 1980s Harlem Ballroom scene that served as the original 'safe spaces' for queer people of color. As documented in the film "Paris is Burning", voguing originated from African American drag queens and their tradition of "throwing shade", and evolved into a style of dance that became a new home and new identity for gay black and latino kids who often had been cast out onto the street by their parents. Today the dance floor remains a safe haven for self-expression for the LGBTQ community.
We worked with Flowsofly to come up with a design that could represent dancers' bodies, using our shoot with MORTALS muse Infinite Coles as inspiration and references for the poses (view our shoot with Infinite here to see where our ideas came from). We pieced the design together in a way that is clearly a nod to the voguing style of dance, yet still vague and somewhat abstract. Flowsofly put their trademark style on it, and the final result was embroidered onto white nylon material. With a house music voguing beat in mind, we decided to call the design "WALK FOR ME", named after the Tronco Traxx house classic from 1995. Since this design is so large it's a costly embroidery job, which means these pieces are limited-edition... there aren't many left! Shop the collection.
Generally quite anonymous, Flowsofly is someone who doesn't like to reveal much about themselves, however we were able to get some insight into their perspective in our interview below.
The 'WALK FOR ME' Tunic and Crop Top:
Your profile is mysterious, so tell us a bit about yourself. Who are you?
I usually don't reveal much about myself. That is very much on purpose because often you can't "un-know" something, and whatever you know or want to know or think you know colors your perception. I like my work to be in the foreground, and even that shouldn't be complete but only inspire a viewer, tickle her/his thoughts, ideas, mood, feels about a situation. So in order to keep that very open I don't say much about myself, but rather let the work speak for itself. As my work has gained popularity, though, I reckon this anonymity to be harder and harder to deal with. So what I say is that I grew up in the Alps, and am still very connected to the mountains. I did travel quite a bit as well since I was a child, having lived in Canada, Italy, Korea and currently back in Austria, which has really broadened my perspectives. What I can also say is that I don't draw for a living.
What stimulated your interest in drawing and how did you start out?
Like many kids, I doodled a lot as a child but then kinda lost it as an adult. It was a few years ago in design school when I reconnected with that. I vividly remember some of my classmates being able to sketch out an idea, a concept, a representation of something, with a few quick strokes. I liked the philosophy of that.. of a sketch, a quick manifestation of an idea. I get bored very easily and can't be bothered with figuring out details, but instead the process to get to the idea is the exciting thing for me. So I also work this way now when I usually see a photo or a movie scene or read something and then want to deconstruct that, interpret that, explore the idea, explore how I see it... and then the craft is more the necessity, and something that I had to get reasonably ok at, but still I enjoy the conceptual part of the work a lot more. The pen sketches are just a quick way of expressing these concepts, giving a viewer enough to see it but not everything, not the whole picture.
What are your influences?
I lived in Vienna for a while and went to see Egon Schiele's work a lot. I also draw a lot of inspiration from music, and recently a lot from electronic music producers. What I like there is that many musicians admit to not being able to play any instrument but they feel and kinda know what sounds good so they work a lot to put that together and develop a style. In electronic music you also break a complex tune down into basic, often looped sequences and mix and master them in novel ways. I like the philosophy of that because I have a very similar approach to making art. I look at something and try and play with it in my mind and break it down to lines, and then keep that line minimal or make it really long, just like when you loop a beat.
What are you into at the moment?
I like to spend my time outdoors, so in winter this means lots of freeride skiing. But also music -- currently I'm into very electronic music (like Deamau5 or Kalkbrenner) and acoustic piano.
Since we're a genderless brand, what are your thoughts about gender?
It's a very interesting topic that one tends to have an initial opinion about based on your upbringing, your social sourroundings, your family, and then you tend to take that opinion for granted and not question it. I grew up in a relatively conservative environment so that shaped my thinking as a child, and for me it was when traveling to bigger cities and meeting kids from different continents that I started to explore what culture is, and with that, also identity and self-expression. Going through my teenage years with several siblings and moving to different places different ideas of identity and sexuality entered my mind, but it took me a long time to figure out that there are very few rules in this world; like you're gonna die someday, earlier if you do this or don't do that, but most other things that we tend to take as 'rules' are actually made-up beliefs and you may follow them or you might also say 'screw that'. That's why I'm so skeptical of the self-help industry and also the how-to-become-a-millionaire moneymaking philosophies because most of these have been written by people who are very insecure themselves or unsuccessful. Often you can just come up with your own philosophy and you might believe it or you might change your mind after a while, but it's this notion that the belief-system of the world is much more in flux rather than fixed rules in reality and I find that really exciting.
Are you into fashion? If so, what's your personal style like?
As you might expect, I'm quite a minimalist when it comes to fashion, sticking for simplicity - few colors and no ornamentation, often preferring the comfortable option. For me personally I look at clothing from a practical rather than an artistic perspective. I'm not one whose physical expression speaks louder than the words. I do find pleasure in experiencing people when they feel confident and at ease, and I find it exciting how certain clothing can bring that confidence upon people. For some it's high heels. A big hat. Gloves. Lipstick.
Any projects you're looking forward to or plans for the future that you want to share?
My Flowsofly account just turned 3 years old. That is an incredibly long time to stick with something for someone like me who gets bored easily. I've also never drawn the same thing twice and I always tend to be able to come up with a new way of making someting staying within my style and craft, which I find surprising as well, haha. As word about my works and style spreads, there have been interesting collaborations, e.g. with Two Feet, a musician whose cover art I made. Because I'm a fan of music I'm looking to dive deeper into that scene and also explore music production as a source of inspiration.
Often times it's very up to the people you surround yourself with (someone introduces your work to someone, you get a call, one door opens another one, that sort of thing). To illustrate, the story of how the Two Feet collaboration came to be was that I posted a story on my Instagram asking my audience what music they would associate with my drawings. Some mentioned Two Feet, whom I didnt know at the time. So I listened to his work, liked it, and kept playing it. Sometimes I would film behind-the-scenes stories, post them on Instagram and tag the musicians. In this case I then got talking to Bill (the guy behind Two Feet) via DMs and then he brought up the idea of the cover and I was like 'hell yeah'! I could've told you about my aspirations in connecting my works with music, but then how it all unfurled was really hard to predict or plan and just sort of happened. I like that. It shows how some moments can shape your life. Sometimes things work out and sometimes they don't. But it also shows you that when there is momentum, you have to do it.
Scroll through some our favorite sketches by Flowsofly:
Published: May 2018